Auditory Insight, a consultancy for the hearing healthcare industry, announced its newly released Q2 Research Note that details Apple’s forays into hearing health. 

Download the full Q2 Research Note: Apple’s Hearing Health Strategy. 

According to Auditory Insight, Apple’s solution “integrates customized hearing assistance with noise protection in one device: the AirPods Pro earbuds.”

Related article: Apple Shares Results of Hearing Study

“Traditional hearing aids use algorithms to amplify speech signals, but do not provide a noise-cancellation mode,” said Nancy M. Williams, President of Auditory Insight. “However, we believe that as consumers become more engaged in their hearing health, they will view on-demand protection to be as important as amplification.” 

Apple’s new hearing health solution has relevance for the hearing loss market of 40M people over 50. Less than 15% of that population regularly wears a hearing aid, due to barriers of price, access, efficacy, and perceived social stigma. 

Major components of Apple’s hearing health solution detailed in the research note include: 

  • The AirPods Pro offer customized amplification in Transparency mode, 
  • Consumers may tailor Transparency mode by loading their audiogram into the Apple Health App,
  • To obtain an audiogram, consumers can take a pure-tone hearing test on apps such as Mimi or SonicCloud, 
  • The AirPods Pro offer noise protection via automatic noise cancellation, 
  • Apple’s Hearing Study finds that 25% of participants are exposed to unsafe noise levels daily. 

Auditory Insight’s research note provides examples of how consumers need both amplification and noise protection. A worker in a loud environment, for example, requires protection throughout the day, punctuated by conversations with coworkers requiring customized amplification, switching rapidly between the two states. 

The research note highlights drawbacks to Apple’s AirPods Pro: 

  • Current battery life of 4.5 hours is insufficient for people who wear hearing aids all day, 
  • They are personal sound amplification devices, rather than FDA-cleared hearing aids, 
  • An independent study by Hearing Tracker shows the devices don’t amplify high pitches as effectively as conventional hearing aids. 

“Despite limitations, we believe Apple’s integration of customized amplification and protection provides clear, functional value for people with mild-to-moderate hearing loss,” said Williams. “For the millions of Apple iPhone users who already own AirPods Pro, the solution is easily accessible. And the widely accepted design provides a welcome alternative for people who shy from traditional hearing aids.” 

Williams is available to elaborate on this research and to discuss the importance of combining hearing amplification with protection. 

“Many people spend years, if not a decade, coming to terms with their hearing loss before seeking treatment,” said Williams. “For Apple’s 113 million iPhone users, their solution has the potential to significantly compress the time to treatment.” 

Source: Auditory Insight

Image: Auditory Insight, Apple